However, if you’re having trouble finding an agreement with your ex, the court will have to decide on a custody arrangement that’s best for the child. In that case, you should consider getting help from a Richmond child custody lawyer.
Because legal representation is expensive, some parents choose to file a pro se action and handle the matter themselves. This is not a good idea if any of the situations listed below are true for you.
If you decide to do it yourself and then get overwhelmed with paperwork, you will need a lawyer anyway. If your income is low, you might be able to get legal help for free or on a sliding scale from legal resources in the Richmond area.
Here are some situations when a child custody lawyer is your best bet for a fair outcome.
Your Kids Are in Danger
This scenario demands the immediate help of a child custody attorney. When it comes to the safety of your children, the cost of legal representation is secondary. If you believe your kids are currently in danger, you should call 911, consult with a lawyer immediately and get a restraining order.
Your Ex Is Sabotaging Your Time With the Kids
If your former partner is making it difficult for you to see the children, get help. This kind of obstructive behavior is likely to get worse over time. Retaining a lawyer will help you get a fair measure of time with your kids until the custody matter is resolved.
Your Ex Has a Child Custody Lawyer
Going without legal representation when your ex has a lawyer can put you at a clear disadvantage. Even if your ex has informally agreed to a custody arrangement, the game plan can change at any time without your knowledge. Retaining legal counsel of your own keeps the playing field level.
You and Your Ex Live in Different States or Countries
Child custody cases can get complicated when there are significant geographical distances between the parties. Even if you familiarize yourself with all the relevant child custody laws in the areas where you and your ex are living, you should still retain counsel if you have an inter-jurisdictional case.
You Have Been Court-ordered to Take Classes or Get Treatment
If you have emotional issues that could interfere with your parenting ability, you’re at a distinct disadvantage as far as the courts are concerned. The judge can mandate you to take parenting classes or to participate in stress management or anger management sessions. An experienced child custody attorney can help you to present yourself in the most positive way possible.
This does not apply to the parenting classes that the Fort Bend County courts require divorcing parents to take.
Always seek help in a custody hearing if you struggle with or have a history of substance misuse, even if you’re clean and sober now. If you’re spotted having dinner with a few drinking friends, it can easily be twisted into something else and used against you by your ex’s attorney.
Your lawyer can suggest actions you can take to address any ongoing problematic behaviors. Completing parenting classes or attending AA meetings can help to convince the judge that you are able to provide a stable home for your children.
You Have a Blended Family
Get legal counsel if, in addition to the children you have together, you or your ex also have stepchildren, kids with other partners or new partners with children. Courts don’t like to separate siblings. Find an attorney with experience and expertise in the Texas family code.
Your Custody Issues Involve Specialists
Child custody cases involving professional evaluations or expert witness testimony should be represented by a lawyer with experience in these types of cases.
Saving on Legal Expenses
Does your case fall outside of the above categories, but your ex is still being difficult about custody arrangements? Hybrid legal help, a pro se action, or mediation can all help you reach an agreement in a child custody case.
- Some law firms provide legal advice by the hour on child custody cases and offer counsel and support outside of the courtroom. Vonda does this.
- Completing all the paperwork and preparing your own child custody case will definitely save you money. However, it can also turn out to be way more work than you expected. If you decide to do this yourself, it’s a good idea to retain legal counsel to critique your paperwork and ensure that it satisfies the requirements of the court. Vonda does this.
- Hire an attorney only for court hearings. If you decide on this course of action, make sure that your attorney gets involved in the case as early as possible. This is different in Texas because once the attorney makes an appearance, they are the attorney of record of the court and responsible for the case until they withdraw. Vonda does this.
- You can hire an attorney to work with your ex out of court to settle on a fair custody agreement. Your attorney can also encourage your ex to participate in mediation.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a process during which you and your ex meet with a third-party mediator to resolve a dispute. A licensed mediator can help you and your ex to compromise on a workable child custody agreement. Although mediators can cost between $100 and $300 per hour, the total cost, if a resolution is reached, would be significantly less than you would pay for a court hearing. Vonda is a mediator.
Finding a workable plan in a child custody case can be extremely exhausting and stressful. An initial consultation can help you choose the best course of action in a child custody matter.
Contact The Best Child Custody Lawyer
If you have questions or need a child custody lawyer, call Covington Law Firm today to schedule your first consultation.